FAQ Index

Light Table

Construction / Molds

Choosing Glass

Pattern Preparation

Pattern Hints

Scoring / Breaking Glass



Fitting The Glass

Lamp Positioners

Solder / Soldering

Reinforcing Lamps

Special Considerations


Releasing a Shade

Ring and Rim



Special Applications

Tools, Aids etc.

Health & Safety Concerns


Selling Your Artwork

Workshop Renovations

Photographing Lamps


With so much great glass on the market, it’s a shame to have to rely on manufactured jewels that are either the wrong color, or just plain blah. Find some glass that will enhance the mystery and excitement of your lamp and experiment.
Lora Dill and Taeko Hirose: Make your own jewels by cutting 2 same-size layers of G.N.A. glass circles for each jewel...one circle with color and the other circle clear. Use the colored G.N.A. for the top layer and clear G.N.A. on the bottom. If a very light color is chosen for the jewel, use this color for both layers. Your fusing will be successful when you use clear G.N.A. for the bottom layer with other manufactured glass for the top color circle. Since the glass will spread out during firing, the glass circles are cut slightly smaller than the final size you want. Use a small table-top kiln and brush the kiln brick with glass release and use “Spray A” on the top layer of the glass circles. Check the progress of your fusing when the kiln reaches between 1400 and 1500 degrees. Always use clean glass. Try melting only one color in the kiln at a time, since fusing time varies with color. You could use Elmer’s glue to hold glass pieces together, but apply it only around the edges of the pieces to be fused. Bullseye’s Cranberry glass makes beautiful jewels!
Nikki O’Neill: To produce jewels, Tiffany pressed molten glass into brass molds and used a kiln to anneal. I’m sure he used a furnace to get molten glass, but I just use a torch and kiln for annealing. I heat and melt the ends of two rods of glass (same or different colors) in the torch until the mass is about right, take the blob out of the fire for a few seconds to get a “skin” and to be able to handle it easier and then I plop the molten glass into the mold and press. After a second or two, I take the glass (still attached to one of the rods) out of the mold and torch off the chill marks. I cool the glass in the flame a little, clip off the rod attachment punty, and let the jewel fall on a very hot hotplate. Then I pick it up with warmed forceps and place it in a hot kiln to anneal. You can make jewels from any rods that you have, just don’t mix COE’s. To make glass leaves, use a two sided press or “masher” with ridges to make the veins. I have an oval shaped leaf press. Both halves of the press match up and are welded onto the jaws of a pair of pliers. By pulling and flattening, I make the rough shape of the leaf at the torch on a punty. To make smaller leaves, I use a longer-than-wider slightly twisted mold which is tapered at the tip and more heart-shaped at the top. While moldable hot, position the glass in the mold and quickly clamp down. Hold for a second or two and then release. The veins are now present and the glass can be shaped more if needed.

Patti Curtin: All glass manufacturers have their own formula for making glass. For that reason, not all glasses are compatible. Bullseye and Uroboros both make a line of glass that is tested compatible at 90 COE. Uroboros and Spectrum both make a line of glass that is tested compatible at 96 COE. When the manufacturer tests it, they are allowed to be .5 COE off. However, if you have glass tested compatible at 90 COE and one glass is actually 89.5 and a second that’s 90.5 you may still end up with breakage because of incompatibility. Certain companies have many colors in their palette that may be compatible - for instance, GNA colors are compatible. Kokomo also has many colors in the 96 COE range. If you want to make something like a snowflake, you could use the same sheet of white since all glass is compatible within its own sheet. However, another run of white, by the same manufacturer, but made later the same day, may not be compatible with what they produced earlier in the day. Bottom line: testing and checking with polarization will assure you of compatibility.

Stephanie Braman: When fusing iridescent glass, here is a trick to help maintain the iridized coating and also give the finished piece a deeper look. This requires two pieces of glass - one iridized and the other cathedral. Cut out your pattern piece from each of the glasses, then lay one atop the other with the iridized coating facing the cathedral glass. Proceed to do a full fuse. (It’s best to fuse at a lower temperature over a longer period of time in order to reduce the chance of the coating burning off.) What happens is the coating is trapped between the glasses. If you are using a textured iridescent, the iridized pattern will turn out very 3D looking.

Merle Jones & Don Conti: Purchase fire bricks from a pottery supply outlet. Make a cardboard template based on the angle of the lamp mold where you want to add slumped pieces. Carve and then sand the brick to match the contour of the template. Lay the glass piece to be slumped upside down on the prepared fire brick and fire it. The Quick Start Kiln is ideal for small slumping jobs and is reasonably priced. (Run a test to insure that the glass you want to use in slumping will retain its color.) There is no need to anneal these small pieces...pull them right out of the kiln as soon as the slumping is done to your satisfaction.
Chuck Berets: Warm the mold before you fire the glass. It needs to be at a saturated 200 degrees F so there won’t be any kiln shock. The slump will start at 1100 degrees. If you see a color change in your glass, slow down the slump by firing more slowly.
Glass just removed from the kiln can be cooled in a covered container filled with vermiculite.
Pat Pecora & Barbara Grollo: Use a fiberblanket with fiber mold hardener called Moist Pack® to slump glass:
• Cut a piece of the blanket a few inches larger in all directions than the area in which you are slumping pieces to fit.
• Press the material inside the area you’re planning to slump, smoothing as much as possible.
• Leave it place to air dry for 2 to 3 days - enough to harden for handling.
• Fire it in the kiln to at least 50 degrees above the temperature you will need for slumping (1300 to 1350 degrees F) since the glass should slump at about 1250 degrees F.
• When it has cooled, three coats of kiln wash should be applied to the mold. (There seems to be no need to re-coat the mold between firings; that seems to cause the material to break down quicker.) Use in a well-ventilated area since it contains ether.

Walt Boepple: At our last meeting, Joan Luckhurst showed her method of making a slumping mold so that she could slump some glass for her new lamp. Joan went to a local pharmacy and got a small box of gauze that is filled with plaster of paris in the webbing. She placed the piece of gauze in water, removed it and placed it over her mold. After it hardened, she had made a perfect mold of her mold! Now the new new mold was ready to be filled with mold mix. When set up, this is what she used as her slumping mold to hold the glass. With this method, you don't have to put the mold mix on your mold.

Diana Springer: I make my own molds from Styrofoam and carve them to the shapes I want.
Alex Glassman: I went to a restaurant supply store and bought a 24” wok. The wok had the right shape for a hanging lamp and because it didn’t have a great curve, longer pieces of glass could be used in its design.
This shade is on the cover of our 1998 calendar.
Barry Richters: Just because you receive a request to make a lamp with an unusual shape, is no reason to back off. The last 6 lamps I’ve made were selected from books and even from our own calendar after a customer says, “I want one something like that, only a bit smaller, or flatter.” My next move is to draw a side profile of the lamp on a metal sheet, then cut out the shape with tinsnips. I make the mould out of a solid block of styrene foam. If necessary, layers of styrene can be glued together with a water-based wood glue to produce a solid block the same height as the shade. (as you reduce the block to the desired shape, be aware that you’ll have a snow storm!) Having marked the diameter of the lamp on the block, I trim outside the perimeter of the circle with a handsaw. Using the internal portion of the metal profile (pattern) as a guide, I whittle and rasp away the styrene until the metal profile fits over the mould on all sides. Then I give the mould a coat of sealant paint. After it dries, I cover it with masking tape. The design is drawn on the taped mould. After the lamp has been constructed, the masking tape can be removed or painted over, so a new design can be drawn. Being an ex-sheetmetal worker, I draw on my pattern making experience and use sheetmetal to make some of my moulds. However, these shapes are limited to cones and multi-sided flat section shades. I still cover these moulds with masking tape and draw on the lamp design.

Chaz Smith: Since the pattern for Tiffany’s Butterfly lamp wasn’t available, I decided to reproduce the mold and design on my own. I found photos in the Neustadt and Duncan books. Even though I wasn’t able to find a complete photo of one repeat, I was able to come close enough so that I could fill in the repeat.
Materials: • photo of lamp (straight on view of one side) •dimensions of lamp - ring size, diameter and height • photocopier - to enlarge or reduce the photo • opaque projector
• 1/4” plywood or cardboard - to cut out profile of half of the lamp • styrofoam insulation sheet - enough to cut circles the diameter of the lamp and stack to the height of the lamp • glue for styrofoam (I used wood glue) • 1/4” plywood - 12”x12” • motor with buffing wheel attachment • double sided tape (such as carpet tape) • saw, sandpaper, ruler and marking pen • clear packing tape • safety glasses
1. Enlarge photo of lamp to size you want it to be. (I taped several sheets together to obtain the complete image.)
2. Cut out this image, fold it in half and trace this half onto 1/4” plywood or cardboard. (This profile will be used to form the styrofoam, so be exact.)
3. Cut rough circles of styrofoam insulation that are about an inch larger than the diameter of the shade.
4. Glue the circles together to form a stack that is somewhat higher than the shade height and allow the glue to dry.
5. Drill a hole in the center of the 12”x12” piece of plywood so that it can be mounted on the buffer arbor. This piece may be cut round and should be made smaller than the lower rim on the lamp.
6. Mount plywood/arbor combination to the bottom of the styrofoam stack with double sided tape - being careful to center it. (You may need to drill a hole in the styrofoam for the arbor protrusion.
7. Mount the arbor on the motor. (If you have a foot switch control, use it to power the motor; otherwise, get a friend to switch the power on and off.) Take this assembly outside, as this gets very messy.
8. Put on safety glasses and briefly apply power to the motor so that the styrofoam plug starts to spin. (I kept giving it short bursts - never getting up to full speed.)
9. Use the saw and begin forming the plug. Hold the saw horizontally and work slowly so as not to break it off the arbor and turn the plug down to the diameter of the lamp.
10. Turn the styrofoam plug to the shape of the lamp by using the plywood (or cardboard) profile as a guide.
11. Sand briefly with coarse sandpaper.
12. Remove the lamp mold from the arbor and take a shower to get those cursed little white things out of your hair.
13. Use the opaque projector to shine the image of the photo onto the styrofoam lamp mold. Be sure the mold is level and square to the projector. (You may need to enlarge or reduce the photo image so that it can be projected correctly onto your mold.)
14. With a marking pen, trace the pattern lines onto the mold. You may need to change focus for different areas. (My lamp had three repeats, so I picked one repeat and then made sure they were spaced at equal thirds around the mold...the rest fell 62
into place.)
15. After the image is traced onto the mold to your satisfaction, cover it with clear packing tape to protect the mold from Tacky Wax and flux.

Ross Whipple (Finland) writes: “The high price of lamp molds has been a real put-off here, so recently, while visiting one of our flea markets with imagination in high gear, I purchased a 20” copper dome for just 90¢ to use to make my own mold. First off, I bought 2 rolls of 3/4” masking tape. I tore off a whole bunch of short pieces - 1 or 1 1/2 inches long and set them aside. Then I started to cover the copper dome with longer pieces - with the sticky side up! I tacked these in place at the bottom and top of the dome with one of the short pieces -(sticky side down). I continued until the dome was covered with the sticky tape. Next, I covered the dome again with long pieces of tape, but this time the sticky side is placed down - no need now to apply short pieces of tape. After this was completed, I covered it one more time, so that the dome was covered with 3 layers of tape. I used a razor blade to cut a circle at the top (about 2” in diameter) and then cut around the bottom edge of the dome. I was able to lift off a very fine blank masking tape mold! I replaced it onto the dome, drew my design upon it, covered it with clear plastic tape and then proceeded to build my lamp! After completing the soldering on the outside, I lifted the whole thing off the dome, removed my pattern/mold from inside the lamp and did the inside soldering on my lamp. Anyone could do this with a lamp made out of anything. The variety of shapes and sizes you find at fleamarkets is endless and fun!”

Walt Boepple: When I walked into a garden supply store, I noticed a squirrel baffle that, to me looked just like a clear plastic lamp mold! My mind thinks in "glass" so whenever I see something like that, I wonder if it could be done in "glass". I look at objects and wonder if they would be a good "mold" to use for a lamp.
Carol Conti did a lamp a few years ago and used a boat buoy as a mold. Joan Luckhurst used a white bathroom type globe for a lamp a few years ago , but reminded us: don't solder it all together on the mold, because it couldn’t come off! There are no limitations as to what we can use for making our own molds.

Joan Bengston: The way I make molds is a lot of work and takes tools that many of you probably don't have. The process isn't for the person looking for a quick and easy way, but just in case you’re interested I'll share it. I start out with a drawing of half the profile of the desired shade (from the center to the outside edge) actual size. I transfer that to masonite or thin plywood and carefully cut it out with a band saw. Then I take a 4' x 8' sheet of 2" thick styrofoam insulation that I buy from the lumberyard supply. I cut circles bigger than I need for the shape of the mold and glue the layers together onto a plywood circle base. At this point it looks rather crude, five or six disks high. My husband puts it on the turning lathe that has been geared down to slow speed and turns it to the shape I want using the masonite template I have made. His lathe has a chuck on the outside end where he can shape large objects. Instead of regular lathe cutting tools he uses a planer that looks to me a lot like a kitchen food shredder/grater. It smooths that styrofoam down beautifully. Then I cover it with fiberglass cloth and put three coats of fiberglass resin on it. This gives me a nice hard surface to work on. I sand it smooth with a sanding block, dust it off well and spray paint it white. A hole the
size of a threaded lamp rod is drilled through the center. (I need this for my shade positioner.) And there I have a blank mold any size, shape or description I want. For this method you must use a special resin that will not melt the styrofoam, but be forewarned that it is very expensive. All fiberglass has an extremely powerful smell and is best used in a garage or outdoors. A catalog can be obtained from Wicks Aircraft Supply, 410 Pine Street, Highland, IL 62249-1243 Phone: 618 654-7447

Bonnie Eckert: I do a small amount of plating in almost every lamp. Sometimes there’s a “clinker” piece that looked fine on the light table, but just didn’t look right when I had it off the mold. Plating can do wonders! It takes some experimenting with different glass - sometimes just ice white makes a big difference. In the 28” Peony cone I just finished, I plated four of the centers - but that was planned. The centers are very large and seemed to demand extra treatment. I cut some Chicago Art Glass irridescent white mini-turtlebacks which made the centers really stand out. Then I plated on the inside with some Bullseye cranberry. That gave the centers depth and are really beautiful. Try it sometime when you just can’t find the right color or effect. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Ichiro Tashiro: When I plate, I cut two identical-sized pieces of glass with different color/texture. I foil each piece individually. Then, I take the pieces and tape them together with a much wider copper foil. Make sure that the foil is tightly glued to the pieces properly. (By taping the two pieces together, you do not have to worry about dirt getting in between the pieces.) Position this on the mold. Please note that this piece is higher (extruding) than the rest of the pieces because the thickness of the double piece is, well, double. While soldering, the important point is DO NOT SOLDER this double piece now. After the rest of the lamp is soldered, carefully remove it from the mold with the unsoldered double piece and push the piece in so that the outer surface becomes level with the rest of the lamp. Solder in place.
Lynne Salcetti: When I plate a piece, I foil each piece and tin the foil with a very thin layer of lead. Then, I lead the two pieces together around the outside with just enough solder to seal them together. After that, I place them on the mold and use the method that Ichiro uses. (Place them on the mold until everything else is soldered. Remove from the mold and solder the layered piece in place.) This works fine for me.
Marie Jo Murray: Glass pieces that are to be plated should only be tinned at the areas where the two will meet. After tinning, clean thoroughly and apply patina to both pieces. Use a small amount of flux to solder the pieces together after you’ve removed the patina from those areas with fine steel wool. Sometimes, as I am choosing glass for a lamp’s background, I go wild! In one lamp, I layered five different types of glass - including stipple water glass, to achieve the illusion of a lake. I even layered the petals of flowers that are near the lake with a clear ripple. This additional layer of glass gave the illusion of water ripples refecting off the flowers.
Chaz Smith: Use a piece of mylar to trace the leadline around the piece to be plated. The tracing should be made larger than the piece to be layered so that, after the glass is foiled and soldered in place, it will not cut out any light. Copy the tracing on to your plating glass and cut. Foil and tin the plating glass. Clean this glass as well as the area to be plated. Hold the piece in place and tack solder without using flux. Solder all the way around, but leave a small opening at the bottom. By soldering all around the piece, no light will show through gaps. The small opening is important so that water can drain out after you’ve washed your lamp. When you’re satisfied with the plating, apply patina.

Paul Crist: Do your own mosaic work on the Dragonfly or Arrowroot Urn bases. You will save some money as well as getting the colors you want to blend with your lamp! Make a paper pattern of the background on the base and lay this over the sheet of glass you have chosen. Cut it as a large piece and then cut into at least a thousand rectangles! Glue them on the base in the order in which they were cut.
Hal Sandler: Not wanting to buy a commercially mass-produced mosaic base to hold my Cobweb/Apple Blossom shade, I designed and built my own mosaic for a less expensive base (Spelter 134) and used glass that was compatible with this shade. I also made my own mosaic for the 16” Dragonfly and applied it to Classic American Lighting’s Dragonfly Urn. The making of a mosaic for a lamp base is a 6 step process.
Step 1. An existing pattern must be copied or designed to fill the area on the lamp base. In order to scale the design or pattern to fit the required area, architects linen is used to cover the area of the lamp base that will receive the glass tiles. An exact outline of the area to be covered is drawn on the linen after it dries and can then be transferred to paper or any other surface. This approach will work if there are panels (repeats) involved or a continuous design is used. If the surface is highly curved, darts must be used in the pattern or allowance and compensation accomplished during the final glass application process (see below).
Step 2. Knowing the exact dimensions, a previous design can be transferred or scaled to fit or an original drawing executed. Once the area design is executed, colors must be chosen and glass selected. Several copies are made of this pattern - at least one of which is a mylar copy.
Step 3. Opaque mylar (identical to that used for Odyssey patterns) is used to cut templates and is affixed to the glass for subsequent cutting. (Making of a mask prior to glass selection is useful, but it must be realized that light will not shine through the glass and so the glass should be chosen for its opaque coloration when light is shining onto the surface rather than through it.) The pattern is cut to tight tolerance. After cutting the glass, the final assembly is accomplished on one of the pattern copies (paper) and evaluated as to its color highlights and pull-in effects from lying next to constrasting colors. The width of the seam between pieces is totally up to the discretion of the artist. Remember that these seams will be filled with grout at a later stage. Step 4. Horizontal cuts are made in each glass piece of the pattern. The first cut is arranged to be in the middle of the piece and located to run horizontal to the platform of the base by drawing a line through the piece on the pattern. The width of a given horizontal cut is maintained throughout and tested for adequate coverage on the pattern. I have had almost 100% success in making these straight horizontal cuts in the various pieces using a well lubricated glass cutter and running pliers. I do not recommend breaking by hand or using 2 sets of pliers. Obviously, the best effects are obtained when all pieces are cut parallel. After some practice, these cuts can be done by hand and the widths marked on the glass with a sharpie. For larger pieces, a ruler serves best. The horizontal cuts are then laid on the original pattern; they do not have to have widths that fit end to end with adjacent pieces. There is no grinding of these pieces, or of subsequent vertical cuts. Vertical cuts are made with widths at your discretion. The vertical cuts are made to establish a brick laying pattern for the piece and the over-all pattern. Smaller cuts are used should the surface have significant curvature. Step 5. The pieces are affixed using E6000 industrial strength silastic glue, manufactured by Eclectic Products Inc, New Jersey City, NJ. Before starting, I lay down a straight horizontal line all the way around the lamp base using masking tape at the center horizontal line of the pattern. One then works upward and downward from this line in subsequently affixing pieces. A thin layer of the silastic is applied to each individual piece and worked by gluing the center tiles first and then moving toward the periphery for each specific horizontal row. Each piece is held in place by hand for approximately 30 seconds. Excess glue is avoided by using a cotton applicator (Q tip) so that none of the silastic comes up in the seams between pieces that later need to be grouted.(Should this occur, the excess can be removed with an Xacto knife, but this is messy and difficult after the glue has dried.) Some touch-up grinding may have to take place to get final pieces to exactly fit in relief crevices of the pattern on the base along the periphery. The base is placed in a horizontal position during application of tiles and from side-to-side as tiles are placed towards the periphery. The base is left in the horizontal position over night to minimize the effects of gravity. Step 6. After pieces have dried over night they can be grouted. Use non-sanded grout since the spaces between tiles are at a minimum. Tint the white grout after making a paste using water. (Various tints are available as small tubes of concentrated paint pigment at hardware stores.) For regular antique bronze patina, I use burnt umber tint. I use masking tape to cover the edge of the base and not allow grout to contact this area since the lime in the grout attacks and discolors the patina. I do final touch up with a tooth brush and steel wool and use shoe polish on the edges where the tiles meet the patinated surface.

Joan Bengtson: Most chipping is done on window glass or thicker plate glass.
The process may be done on whole pieces of glass without any resist or design work. Wonderful results can be achieved by chipping the flashed side of flashed antique glass. Materials needed: animal hide glue granules, cold water, sandblast resist, masking tape and silica gel (optional). •Clean glass well and apply sandblast resist, working out bubbles. •Transfer desired design onto the resist. •Cut along design lines with a sharp stencil knife. •Peel the resist off the areas to be chipped. •Sandblast thoroughly. •Carefully brush or vacuum away dust on the glass, but don’t use any cleaner. •To conserve glue or to confine it to specific areas, make dams with 1/2” (or wider) masking tape. •Fold the tape lengthwise - off center and sticky sides together, leaving about 1/4” of adhesive exposed along one long edge for anchoring it to the resist. •Stick the exposed adhesive to the resist at least 1/2” away from the etched area that you will be chipping - bending it so the doubled part stands up to hold the puddle of glue. •Mix glue granules and cold water in a ratio of 1 part glue to 2 parts water by weight, not volume. (Use a kitchen scale.) •Cover the container and let soak a few hours. •Set the container in a little water in a covered pan - like a double boiler. •Heat slowly and stir occasionally, being sure it doesn’t boil or cook, until the glue is about as warm as the hand can stand (140-150 degrees F.) •The glass should at least be at room temperature. •Make sure the glass is level. •Pour glue and spread very quickly. I use my hand to spread the glue to a resonably even thickness of 1/16” - 1/8”. Thin is better than too thick. Don’t go back and touch up since the glue gels very quickly and you risk loosening the glue from the glass. •Let dry at room temperature with gentle circulation until the glue is leathery but still soft enough to cut with your stencil knife. •Cut through the glue along the design lines at the edges of the resist. This makes a nice clean sharp edge to the chipped 66 design area. •Continue to air dry until the glue gets transparent and you can see tension starting. Drying time is quite variable depending on temperature and humidity, but usually it takes 12-24 hours. •Now, you want to force fast drying. What you choose to do depends on the size of the glass, the season of the year, etc. Use one or more of the following methods: set up fans, turn up the heat in the room, hang heat lamps above the glass or set glass in the sun. Small projects may be finished with silica gel. •Cover the glass with a thin cloth. •Sprinkle silica gel over the cloth. (This makes rescuing the silica gel for reuse easier so that it doesn’t get mixed in with the glue chips.) •Place this assembly in a plastic bag or cover it tightly with plastic. Soon, the glue will start to shrink and split. As it continues to shrink, it pulls the surface of the glass off in a fern-like pattern. You can hear it crackle. Some of the pieces pop and fly off the glass, but don’t “help” it. Be patient and let it work. •When it’s done chipping, you have a lot of glue pieces with thin, sharp glass on one side to clean up. Brush it away carefully (but don’t use your hand) and dispose of it. •Tiny bits of glue that remain stuck on the glass can be removed by soaking with water. •Now you can peel off the resist and polish up the finished glass with your favorite glass cleaner.

Ted Hasenstaub: My experience in making filigrees came out of necessity. It all started when I found a lamp in an auction catalog by Tiffany that I fell in love with. It was the Zodiac lamp. A 22" globe type lamp that had all the Zodiac signs arranged around the globe. I knew that I had to build this lamp. Thus, the filgree challenge. I assumed ( never assume ) that this would be a fairly easy task. But soon found out that there was a little bit more to it. I started out talking to my local stained glass store. They told me you could use thin brass stock,. 006" - .008" thick, and nitric acid to etch them. I investigated this nitric acid method and it didn't take long to decide that this was definitely the wrong way to go. Without extremely efficient venting, nitric acid fumes are lethal. Enough said. I had to find another way. I have done some electronic circuit design and have etched out my own copper coated circuit boards. I thought that this may be a way to do the filigrees. I went to a hobby store and purchased a roll of thin sheet copper .004" thick ( it was used for doll houses). I then went to Radio Shack and purchased a couple of bottles of Ferric Chloride, and an etch resistant pen. These are both used to etch copper circuit boards. I cut out a small piece of the copper and drew a small design on it with the etch resistant pen. I poured the Ferric Chloride into a plastic container and then dropped in the copper piece. I came back in about 15 or 20 minutes to remove the piece. THERE WAS NO PIECE LEFT! I thought at first that I left it in too long but after a few more pieces disappeared, it became obvious what the problem was. I never protected the backside of the copper. What a dumb mistake. The ferric chloride ate through both sides of the copper sheet. On the next piece I protected the back with a piece of clear contact paper. Its plastic base made it impervious to the acid. The next piece came out ok but a little thin, I left it in too long. I adjusted the time by trial and error and finally achieved a half way decent looking piece. The next step was drawing the Zodiac filigrees. I thought that I could draw them on a sheet of paper, lay them over a sheet of clear contact paper and use a razor knife to cut them out, then attach them to the copper sheets. After drawing about 40 stick looking figures I finally was able to get one that looked pretty good. I tried cutting it on to the contact paper but with no success. The paper always ripped and I couldn't get the detail that I wanted. I had to figure out another way. Looking through glass catalogs, I came across some Zodiac stencils used for etching glass. They were called rub n etch. I purchased 3 sets. These turned out to be the wrong size so I had to modify them. I steel wooled off the copper and then transferred the stencil onto the copper by rubbing it with a small stick. I then used the clear contact paper to block out large areas. To be able to get small detail I again went to Radio Shack and purchased some printed circuit board resist material. This contained little pieces of resist material that I transfered to the copper. I then used a very small Exacto knife to cut out the designs that I wanted. By trial and error I was able to get the filigrees that I wanted. I then proceeded to the ferric chloride solution. The first few came out fine, but then it kept taking longer to achieve to etching. After talking to the people at Radio Shack, they suggested heating to ferric chloride solution to about 85' f. I placed a floodlamp over the ferric chloride solution and warmed it up to about 80' f. This proved to be an important key. The filigrees came out much crisper than before in a shorter period of time. I ended up doing the previous filigrees over again. After I had all the filigrees done I used my soldering iron to coat both sides of the filigrees with a thin coat of solder because they were very thin at this point. I kept them in a ziplock bag until I used them to prevent oxidation.
note: read more about this lamp in “A Sampling of Designing Procedures”.
Peter Grotepass: Making filigree is really not a secret. I put one of the original size on my photocopy machine, reduce it to 65%, and make some *high contrast* copies on paper. I cut out the prints and leave 2-3 mm ( approx. 1/8 inch) of paper at the edges, then I put the patterns on a piece of black carbon. From this I make 3 copies on transparent ppc copyfilm. To get my "film" for exposing to the etching resist coated brass, I fix the three copies with adhesive spray exactly on top of each other. I expose the 0.2mm (under 1/8 inch) brass plate, coated with positive etching resist (bought ready to use from an electronics store) to UV light for 10 min. I develop the brass
plate in a 20° C (68oF) bath with chemicals, however *which* chemicals I really don´t know. (I asked in the electronics store, but they didn´t know either.) It is a white powder, and there is only "Entwickler " (developer) written on the package. When the pattern appears on the brass in the developer bath, I rinse clean with water. The etching process takes place in a 50°C (122 degree F) bath of Natriumperoxyd (300 grams in 1 Liter of water) for 10-12 minutes. That´s all. The equipment costs, in total, about $350.00 US; chemicals and materials are extra. The etching tank is made from clear glass, is very small and stands upright, like a little aquarium. An electronic thermostat is necessary and a thermometer; therefore the expense. It works well.
Chaz Smith: The basic principle is that filigree is a thin metal with holes in it. We could cut or punch these holes, but this would become rather tedious! An acid solution will dissolve copper (just like the patina, only much faster.) Since we don't want to dissolve the whole sheet of copper, but rather only those portions not required in the filigree we must find some way of preventing the acid from attacking this portion we want as the finished piece. We must protect the back of the copper so the acid doesn't eat away the whole sheet from the back. You can use contact paper, but any water/ acid resistant material will work. Now we must apply a suitable resist material to the front of the copper sheet, in the design of the desired filigree, which will prevent the acid from attacking this area. (This is the same principle used in acid etching glass.) I used the black "fine point" Sharpie markers exclusively when I made printed circuit boards- the ones that are in all electronic equipment.) These Sharpie markers have a pointed felt tip and leave a heavy black line. It is important that a new marker be used so that it draws a solid heavy trace, as an old one that is partially dried up will not provide a solid line. The filigree pattern could be drawn with the marker and etched in the acid. However this could get rather tedious and does not lend itself well to multiple copies. (In the early '90's I read an article in one of the electronics magazines about a film that could be used to transfer images to pc boards for etching. A friend and I tried using standard overhead transparency film and achieved satisfactory results. This was the film (clear plastic sheets) they used back in high school to project the image the teacher was writing up onto the screen.It is sold as office supply stores and comes in standard 8.5X11 sheets.) Instead of using Sharpie marker for the resist, photocopy "ink" will work as well. We must have a way of transferring a photocopied image to the copper to make the filigree. The toner or "ink" on a photocopy machine or laser printer is actually a very fine powder. It is made to stick to the paper with static electricity, then melted in place. Ever notice fresh copies are warm? What we want to do is to melt the image off the copy and onto the copper. We must remember, however, that the copy is flipped over to do this, so the image on the copy must be a mirror image of what we want the filigree to be so that when it is flipped over it is correct. The copy must be dark so that when it is melted onto the copper, a sufficient amount is there to block the acid. So make a dark image of your desired filigree and photocopy it onto a sheet of transparency film. This should be a solid copy. Flip this copy over so the image is on the bottom, and lie it on top of the copper. Now use a standard iron to melt the toner from the transparency onto the copper. Be sure the iron is set low enough that the transparency film doesn't melt. Now you have an image on the front of the copper, and the back of the copper is protected. Its time to etch- let acid eat away all the unprotected copper that is not part of the filigree. Again Radio Shack sells the appropriate acid- ferric chloride. It appears as a dark brown liquid. Pour it into a suitable pan; I used a Pyrex dish about 1/2 to 1 inch deep.Submerge the copper sheet with the filigree pattern on it into the acid. Gently agitate the copper back and forth to wash away dissolved copper and keep fresh acid on the surface - a pair of plastic tongs is useful here. This agitation will speed the process and improve the quality of the etch. Don't be afraid to take the copper out to check on progress. By the time it is finished you will have the filigree stuck to the contact paper. This should take 5 to 15 minutes. Wash this off well when it is done to stop the action of the acid. Now use fine steel wool to clean the marker or toner off the copper. Any slight imperfections can be trimmed with an X-acto or filed when tinning. Some points to remember - always wear your safety glasses when playing with acid. Have a water supply available to wash any spills. I did this in the basement sink. Wear old clothes - acid can make holes. Oh yeah, and don't answer the phone or the acid will eat everything before you hang up! This is really a very simple process. I encourage you all to try it! Don't be scared by the acid - it's not that strong. Experiment with a Sharpie marker to see how the etching process works. Have fun watching the copper disappear!

SB Anthony asked about paints that can be fired in a regular oven. She’s used vitreous paints in her little kiln, but found that the firing often changes the transparency and color of some glass.
Lorrie Gordon: Pebo makes two such paints that I’ve used on glass - Porcelaine and Vitraine. Porcelaine was originally developed for ceramics and is opaque on glass. Vitraine was deloped for glass and remains more transparent. Both are applied and then “baked” at a low temperature in a regular oven. They stand up to the dishwasher test, the window cleaner test, and more importantly, the fingernail test! No one can say how long they will endure since these products only came out a few years ago. The oven temperature is so low that the glass doesn’t heat up enough to impact color. I would suggest that you paint the pieces first and then solder them into your project. These paints can be purchased at craft stores and at some art supply stores.


Dianne Lee: When inserting the glass panels into a brass frame, do you design to fit just inside the opening and solder around the inside of the opening, or do you cut and design the panels to fit inside the complete panel - fitting top to bottom and side to side on each of the four openings?”
Jenny Hanley-Palmer at Odyssey, and a member of ASGLA, instructs us to allow about 1/4” overlap to the edges of your pattern so that each side can be soldered to the inside of the frame. She also emphasized that we should “rough up” the brass before trying to solder the glass panels to it.

Joan Bengtson: When hanging a shade upside down, it is especially important to run several vertical support wires on the inside of the shade from the aperture to the rim. Hanging chains should be attached not at the rim but about one-third of the way in from the rim. This is aesthetically pleasing as well as structurally sound. If possible, plan ahead and create loops in three (or for whatever number of chains you use) evenly spaced support wires for attaching the chains. If it proves too challenging to get the location right, make the looped wires separately to attach later. Cut pieces of wire 2” - 3” long and wrap the center of the wire around a small pen or other round object that approximates the diameter you want the opening to be. Then solder these looped wires securely over the support wires. The long ‘tails’ on the loops will add strength. Depending upon the design of the solder lines, the ‘tails’ may have to be bent to conform to the shape of those lines before they are soldered in place.

Marcia Field: The thought of using pebbles in your lamp shades may never have occurred to you, but I have had such fun over the past several years preparing the pebbles, fashioning them into “clusters” and then designing and creating the lamp shades, that I thought I would share my technique with you. Nature has provided for us a bounty of materials for lampshade making in the form of beach worn pebbles. I don’t know where Tiffany found his pebbles, but he produced a lamp in 1906, (page 96 in The Lamps of Tiffany Studios book) that is made up of the same little pebble cluster “flowers” that I have found so interesting. I include my technique here, in the hope that you too can enjoy this endeavor. I collected my pebbles on Sunset Beach in Cape May, N.J., a unique beach in that the currents tend to deposit beach worn pebbles in preference to just sand. They come in a variety of sizes from about a mm to an inch or two. The beauty of these pebbles is that most of them are made of quartz and are therefore either transparent (thus the name Cape May diamonds) or translucent, and they come in several colors, red or pink, yellow, beige, white, and gray. I choose shapes that tend to be flat and that are round or oval. Since the pebbles are already well tumbled from the surf I need only tumble them for two to four weeks in fine grit and then polishing compound to achieve a high gloss, glassy finish. Then I’m ready to create my clusters. Once tumbled, I divide the pebbles by color, size and shape and place them into plastic baggies for safe keeping. In order to create the clusters, I pour out the group I desire into a box and start selecting pebbles in sets of 5 or 6 that are near identical and place these into the separate divisions of a candy box. An egg carton would also work, or any container separated into little compartments. Once I have several clusters set aside, I can then start foiling. Depending upon the thickness of the stone, I cut copper foil (either 3/16 or 7/32 in width) in half lengthwise and wrap the edges of the stones as I go. I enjoy this wrapping activity because I need not be in my studio. Since I’m not cutting glass or soldering, I can sit in front of a TV or be with family in a much more casual environment. I make sure that to keep the pebbles of any set together, for once foiled they will ultimately be soldered into a cluster. When I started the soldering operation, I found it difficult to keep the roly-poly stones in a circle in order to solder them. I solved the problem by placing them onto the sticky side of a piece of duct tape which was wrapped sticky side out around a small piece of plywood. Voila! The stones stay right where you want them, and after soldering can be easily pulled off the tape, and the tape used again and again. When finished, the little clusters will end up with a hole in the middle, of any size from about 1 to 3 mm. Into these centers I then place a piece of dalle de verre that I have cut to fit, and have wrapped with a strip of foil that may be even less wide than that used for the pebbles. Alternatively you could simply solder the hole closed or use a smaller pebble, but I like the sparkle of that little piece of glass in the center. Once you have created all the finished clusters that you need, you’re all set to make your shade. If you wish to make a shade like Tiffany’s, start at the bottom of the mold and work your way up using the largest clusters at the lower edge and fitting in the smaller ones as you go up. Where it is impossible to fit clusters together exactly, I use a single appropriately sized pebble to fill in the gap or perhaps a small piece of glass. Also, keep in mind that the visual effect seems more interesting if the colors are randomly arranged. If you employ the little clusters as apple or cherry blossoms as I did in the lamp that appeared in the 2004 calendar, you then simply fit them into your shade in place of the glass blossoms. There you have it, a fascinating shade to create. Although it may take a bit more time in the collecting and formation of the clusters, the end results are worth it. I have found that working with pebbles is so enjoyable that I have now created three pebble cluster shades (one includes geode slices) as well as the cherry blossom shade. I’ve also finished a shade that employs the pebbles in place of translucent gems – a take-off on the Empire Jewel found on page 70 of the Lamps of Tiffany and also seen in the collection of the New York Historical Society. Those at the Society have been wonderful in sharing details of the lamp incorrectly measured in the book! I hope you can all find a source of these “little gems” and will enjoy creating with them as I have.

Since neither the magnificent base nor the pattern of the lamp design were available, we in the Association of Stained Glass Lamp Artists had to be content with dreams of how we would do this lamp if we were ever given the chance! We discovered that Source One Lamp Bases makes a smaller replica of this particular base. This lampbase includes the tulip lamps that fit inside the shade. At about the same time, we discovered that Paul Crist, the owner of Odyssey Lamp Systems had the patterns for both the 25” and the 28” Ring Lotus and, up until that point, only Paul Crist Studios had reproduced the Tiffany Ring Lotus. After hearing of our great desire to get the pattern, Paul decided to give the Association of Stained Glass Lamp Artists both of these designs. Thanks to the creativity and hard work of Jan Randa, we now have a working pattern copy and instructions for building a Lotus lamp that we can use with the Source One base.

Jan Randa:
Following are some instructions on using the Source One Lotus base.
•The 28” Lotus pattern from Paul Crist is shrunk to 20”. (Each of the four pattern repeats will cover the area around two of the eight stems of the base.)
•Two of Worden’s 19 1/2” styrofoam sectional molds are glued together and sanded down so that they fit under two stems of the lamp.
•Cover the combined mold with masking tape.
•Begin the first section by drawing an outline on the mold of two of the stems and then trace the lamp pattern around this outline.
•Cut and grind your glass pieces. Use a glass easel and light table to monitor
your work.
•The form should be tightly wrapped with Saran-Wrap.
•Foil your glass pieces and use Tacky-wax to hold them in position on the Saran-wrapped mold.
•Tack solder this section and then remove it - along with the Saran Wrap - from the mold.
•Now remove the Saran Wrap from the back of the glass.
•This section is now tack soldered to the stems.
•Since the stems are not uniform, you must repeat all the steps for the other three section, starting with outlining the next stems and drawing the pattern around them.
•After all four sides are attached to their stems, carefully fit the sides together and complete soldering.

Jerre Davidson:
Three materials are needed for this method of casting jewels: a set of all the different sizes of jewels to cast from, a shallow box or plastic container to cast in, and hydroperm investment material. Hold the jewels in place in the base of the box with Polygrip. Mix the hydroperm - 2 parts powder to 1 part water by weight. To eliminate the possibility of bubbles appearing, it is important to sift the powder into the water and slowly stir it with a wooden dowel to avoid incorporating air. Wait for this to set up. Once it has set, remove the jewels and clean around the edges of the mold. Smooth around all the outside edges to reduce stress points in the mold that might cause cracking. Score a grove around the outside edge of the mold and use high temp wire to reinforce the mold. Before adding glass, prepare the mold by firing it up slowly to the casting temperature. Now, start adding and stacking frit, cullet or shaped pieces of glass into the jewel molds. (If you use frit, you will get more bubbles.) Take this to a full fuse and soak for about 20 minutes - making sure they anneal as they cool. The resulting jewel s will have a milky glow when backlit, but not as shiny as those you purchase. You can improve the shine by either using Back Magic - a low temp fire polishing substance, or by using acrylic spray.